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Literary Science 1: K-5 Mentor Texts

© 2024, 2012 Cooperative Children's Book Center

Compiled by Megan Schliesman and Merri Lindgren

The Next Generation Science Standards emphasize four broad areas of science education:

  • Life Science
  • Earth & Space Science
  • Physical Science
  • Engineering & Design

This bibliography suggests children's literature titles that can be used as mentor texts across these four broad areas. This list is not meant to be exhaustive or to incorporate every science concept that is taught. Instead, it is meant to suggest ways of integrating high-quality children's literature into the science curriculum--books that model outstanding writing (mentor texts) and that can foster engagement, invite discussion, and connect science with other areas of the curriculum. Titles include picture books, novels, poetry, and books of information, as well as hybrid information/fictional offerings.

It should be noted that while the first two categories, Life Science and Earth & Space Science, offer many rich possibilities in children's literature, the other two categories, Physical Science and Engineering & Technology, present more of a challenge. Therefore, these two have been combined into a single category on this list.

Life Science

Books of Information

Chin, Jason. The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey. Illustrated by Jason Chin. Holiday House/Neal Porter Books, 2022. 40 pages. Ages 8-11

Cox, Lynne. Yoshi, Sea Turtle Genius: A True Story About an Amazing Swimmer. Illustrated by Richard Jones. Anne Schwartz Book/Random House, 2023. 32 pages. Ages 5-8

Davies, Nicola. I (Don't) Like Snakes. Illustrated by Luciano Lozano. Candlewick, 2015. 24 pages. Ages 5-9

Fleming, Candace. Giant Squid. Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook, 2016. 36 pages. Ages 6-11

Fleming, Candace. Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera. Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. Holiday House/Neal Porter Books, 2020. 44 pages. Ages 4-8

Montgomery, Sy. The Book of Turtles. Illustrated by Matt Patterson. Clarion/HarperCollins, 2023. 38 pages. Ages 5-9

Owen, Polly. Darwin's Super-Pooping Worm Spectacular. Illustrated by Gwen Millward. Quarto/Wide Eyed Editions, 2023. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Parrott-Ryan, Maria. Mysterious Glowing Mammals: An Unexpected Discovery Sparks a Scientific Investigation. Lerner/Millbrook, 2023. 56 pages. Ages 8-13

Salas, Laura Purdie. Finding Family: The Duckling Raised by Loons. Illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis. Lerner/Millbrook, 2023. 32 pages. Ages 3-7

Stewart, Melissa. Whale Fall: Exploring an Ocean-Floor Ecosystem. Illustrated by Rob Dunlavey. Random House/Random House Studio, 2023. 32 pages. Ages 4-9

Thomas, Isabel. Moth: An Evolution Story. Illustrated by Daniel Egneus. Bloomsbury, 2019. 48 pages. Ages 6-9

Wade, Jess. Nano: The Spectacular Science of the Very (Very) Small. Illustrated by Melissa Castrillon. Candlewick, 2021. 29 pages. Ages 7-10

Picture Books and Fiction

Ashman, Linda. Champion Chompers, Super Stinkers and Other Poems by Extraordinary Animals. Illustrated by Aparna Varma. Kids Can, 2023. 48 pages. Ages 4-8

Cyrus, Kurt. The Voyage of Turtle Rex. Illustrated by Kurt Cyrus. Harcourt /Houghton Mifflin , 2011. 32 pages. Ages 3-8

Holm, Jennifer L.. The Fourteenth Goldfish. Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2014. 195 pages. Ages 9-12

Hopkinson, Deborah. The Humblebee Hunter: Inspired by the Life & Experiments of Charles Darwin and His Children. Illustrated by Jen Corace. Disney/Hyperion, 2010. 32 pages. Ages 5-8

Larkin, Shabazz. The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter. Illustrated by Shabazz Larkin. Readers to Eaters, 2019. 32 pages. Ages 2-7

Park, Linda Sue. Project Mulberry. Clarion, 2005. 225 pages. Ages 9-12

Percival, Kari. How to Say Hello to a Worm: A First Guide to Outside. Illustrated by Kari Percival. Penguin Random House/Rise x Penguin Workshop, 2022. 32 pages. Ages 1-4

Richmond, Susan Edwards. Night Owl Night. Illustrated by Maribel Lechuga. Charlesbridge, 2023. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Earth & Space Science

Chin, Jason Grand Canyon. Illustrated by Jason Chin. Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook, 2017. 42 pages. Ages 6-10

Chin, Jason Your Place in the Universe. Illustrated by Jason Chin. Holiday House/Neal Porter Books, 2020. 40 pages. Ages 7-10

Cole, Joanna The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge. Illustrated by Bruce Degen. Scholastic Press, 2010. 37 pages. Ages 7-10

Coy, John My Mighty Journey: A Waterfall's Story. Illustrated by Gaylord Schanilec. Minnesota Historical Society, 2019. 40 pages. Ages 5-11

DeCristofano, Carolyn Cinami A Black Hole Is Not a Hole. Illustrated by Michael Carroll. Charlesbridge, 2012. 74 pages. Ages 9-13

Derting, Kimberly and Shelli R. Johannes Wind and Water (Vivi Loves Science). Illustrated by Joelle Murray. Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2023. 38 pages. Ages 5-8

Hale, Christy Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World. Illustrated by Christy Hale. Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook, 2018. 24 pages. Ages 3-8

Kajikawa, Kimiko Tsunami!. Illustrated by Ed Young. Philomel, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

Larson, Kirsten W. The Fire of Stars: The Life and Brilliance of the Woman Who Discovered What Stars Are Made Of. Illustrated by Katherine Roy. Chronicle, 2023. 40 pages. Ages 8-12

Lyon, George Ella All the Water in the World. Illustrated by Katherine Tillotson. Atheneum/Richard Jackson Book, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Manley, Curtis Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet. Illustrated by Jessica Lanan. Roaring Brook, 2019. 40 pages. Ages 7-11

Motum, Markus Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover. Illustrated by Markus Motum. Candlewick, 2018. 48 pages. Ages 4-8

Stremer, Jessica Great Carrier Reef. Illustrated by Gordy Wright. Holiday House, 2023. 40 pages. Ages 7-10

Physical Science/Engineering & Design

Books of Information

Barton, Chris. Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions. Illustrated by Don Tate. Charlesbridge, 2016. 32 pages. Ages 6-11

Burns, Loree Griffin. Honeybee Rescue: A Backyard Drama. Illustrated by Ellen Harasimowicz. Charlesbridge, 2022. 40 pages. Ages 5-9

Davis, Kathryn Gibbs. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel. Illustrated by Gilbert Ford. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. 40 pages. Ages 5-9

Fern, Tracey. Pippo the Fool. Illustrated by Pau Estrada. Charlesbridge, 2009. 40 pages. Ages 8-12

Griffith, Victoria. The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont. Illustrated by Eva Montanari. Abrams, 2011. 28 pages. Ages 4-8

Kamkwamba, William and Bryan Mealer. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. Dial, 2012. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

McCarthy, Meghan. Earmuffs for Everyone! How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs. Illustrated by Meghan McCarthy. Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, 2015. 40 pages. Ages 6-9

McCully, Emily Arnold. Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor. Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

Paeff, Colleen. The Great Stink: How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London's Poop Pollution Problem. Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, 2021. 40 pages. Ages 7-12

Sorell, Traci. Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer. Illustrated by Natasha Donovan. Lerner/Millbrook, 2021. 32 pages. Ages 7-10

Stanley, Diane. Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer. Illustrated by Jessie Hartland. Simon & Schuster, 2016. 40 pages. Ages 6-10

Sweet, Melissa. Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Houghton Mifflin /Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 6-10

Picture Books and Fiction

Best, Cari. Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen. Illustrated by Christine Davenier. Farrar Straus Giroux/Melanie Kroupa Books, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

Fleming, Candace. Papa's Mechanical Fish. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Farrar Straus Giroux/Margaret Ferguson Books, 2013. 40 pages. Ages 5-8

Geisert, Arthur. Lights Out. Illustrated by Arthur Geisert. Houghton Mifflin /Walter Lorraine Books, 2005. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

Lee, Suzy. Wave. Illustrated by Suzy Lee. Chronicle, 2008. 32 pages. Ages 3-6

Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Illustrated by Brian Selznick. Scholastic Press, 2007. 533 pages. Ages 9-13

Spires, Ashley. The Most Magnificent Thing. Illustrated by Ashley Spires. Kids Can, 2014. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Vickers, Elaine. Mae and Gerty and the Matter with Matter. Illustrated by Erica Salcedo. 1517 Media/Beaming Books, 2023. 32 pages. Ages 5-8

Warga, Jasmine. A Rover's Story. Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2022. 294 pages. Ages 8-12

Wheeler, Lisa. Someone Builds the Dream. Illustrated by Loren Long. Dial/Penguin Random House, 2021. 40 pages. Ages 4-7

Young, Cybele. Ten Birds. Illustrated by Cybele Young. Kids Can, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 4-9

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